COVID-19: What You Need to Know

COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019), initially known as coronavirus, is an infectious respiratory disease in the same family as the SARS virus, of which there was an outbreak nearly twenty years ago. Common symptoms include coughing, fever, and shortness of breath.

The virus typically spreads via respiratory droplets produced by coughing or sneezing. It can be spread by being in contact with an infected person or by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face.

The COVID-19 virus was first identified in December of 2019 in Wuhan, central China.

How You Can Avoid Catching COVID-19

Preventative measures are similar to those recommended to prevent getting sick in general: wash your hands thoroughly and frequently, avoid touching your face, and try not to spend time around people who may be infected.

If you’ve spent any amount of time online or watching the news in the last few weeks, you’ve likely heard buzzwords like social distancing, self-isolation, and flattening the curve. Let’s take a look at what each of these terms mean, as they are all important in remaining healthy and slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Self-isolation is exactly what it sounds like – isolating yourself at home, though it doesn’t necessarily mean staying at home by yourself. Many people who are able to are working from home and only leaving their homes for short walks or for essential needs such as going grocery shopping.

Social distancing refers to measures one can take when they have to leave their house to avoid contracting or spreading the disease. It’s advised to stay approximately six feet away from other people in public places, and many shops are limiting the number of people who are allowed inside at any given time to make this easier. Practicing social distancing also means avoiding large gatherings and opting not to have guests over.

Flattening the curve can be achieved by practicing social distancing and self-isolation as much as possible. Since many experts believe that contracting the virus is inevitable for many people, the idea is to try and spread out the number of cases at any given time, thus reducing the burden on the healthcare system so that everyone is able to receive treatment. In order to flatten the curve many states and countries like Italy and China have implemented total lockdowns to enforce self-isolation.

Check out this article by the Washington Post for a great visual explanation on how exactly flattening the curve works to benefit the healthcare system.

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